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What You Need to Know About Filing a Travel Insurance Claim

Jan. 7, 2022
4 mins
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As part of your plans and preparations for your vacation or cross-border adventure, purchasing a travel insurance policy to protect yourself if things go awry ought to be near the top of your list.

It’s particularly important during the pandemic with the ever-changing travel restrictions. Travel insurance coverage, such as trip cancellation insurance, can protect your finances if plans don’t work out. Often, travellers can recoup non-refundable expenses like tours or excursion costs. In uncertain times, travel insurance can offer protection whether you take your trip or not.

Why buy travel insurance?

Though travel insurance is typically a low-cost acquisition for most Canadians, many refrain from purchasing a policy before leaving Canada. That’s a risky move that may cost you thousands of dollars if you suffer an injury or illness while away, even for something as minor as a broken arm.

If you think your provincial health care plan will cover any medical emergencies that arise, think again. Provincial health care plans offer a meagre amount of financial support when you’re outside of Canada. Out-of-country health services may be limited to medical assessments and conditions that arise while outside of the country (not pre-existing medical conditions). Check your local health care limitations before departing.

Depending on your age, the condition of your health, and your destination, there are different types of travel insurance available. In any event, buying a travel insurance policy is a smart financial decision to safeguard against unexpected or unforeseen circumstances such as a medical emergency.

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Some countries require you to have travel insurance, or they will turn you away at the border. Search for your destination’s entry and exit requirements on the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories to prepare.

How do I submit a travel insurance claim?

Each insurance provider may have a unique claim-filing process you need to know and follow to file a claim. For instance, there may be two types of claim-filing methods: one for medical emergencies and one for lost baggage or trip cancellation.

As a general rule, when seeking medical treatment, call your insurance provider or have a friend or family member call on your behalf if you are unable. Have your policy number on hand. The insurance provider will then coordinate your care and billing directly with the hospital or physician during your medical emergency. Afterward, you will need to complete a form within a specific time range and submit it along with supporting documentation from the health care provider or facility.

For non-medical emergency travel insurance claims, you can call your insurance provider or submit any supporting documents electronically. Unlike a medical emergency claim, you may have more time to file this type of claim. The devil is in the details, as they say, so be sure to ask your insurance provider about their specific claim-filing processes before leaving home. If a police report or other documentation is required, you’ll want to have it.

How many travel insurance claims are denied?

While most insurance providers do not disclose travel insurance claims data, the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada says the average denial rate of all individual claims is less than 5% annually.

That’s encouraging unless it’s you or someone you know who is among the travellers who’ve had a claim denied. Ultimately, the denials illustrate the necessity to carefully examine the fine print on a policy or medical questionnaire.

Take the time to review a policy thoroughly and ask the insurance provider questions to understand all the terms, exclusions, and conditions. Having the right travel insurance can be a lifesaver if you need it.

What are high-risk activities when it comes to travel insurance?

Some travel policies exclude coverage for high-risk activities you may wish to do while away. For instance, scuba diving or bungee jumping are risky recreational activities in the eyes of an insurance provider (insurance is all about assessing and managing risk, after all). There are other exclusions or activities to be aware of that may void your travel insurance policy, which is why you need to read the fine print. With that said, some insurance providers will provide policy add-ons for athletic- or sports-related activities.

Be honest and transparent with your insurance provider about what you intend to do while on vacation so they can provide you with adequate coverage. If the insurance provider you choose will not cover you for what you want to do on vacation, it merely highlights why it’s best to shop around for travel insurance.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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